“Fathers—Present and Absent,” Ensign, June 1980, 11
A study completed in 1975 on the effect of absent fathers on their children turned up an interesting sidelight. The study found that those fathers who were at home had the same effect on their children as those fathers who were gone in the service, dead, or divorced—unless they were interacting with the children. In other words, if a father isn’t talking with his children, working with them, playing with them, listening to them—according to this research, he does not really influence them.
The study (Feldman and Feldman) tested “such variables as level of communication, parenting, homework help, and selection of the father as a significant ‘other’ by his children.” Fathers who interacted extensively with their children made a big difference—a positive difference—in how their children felt about school, their brothers and sisters, their friends, and their parents. (Cited in D. Russell Crane, “Father Absence and Male Sex-Role Development,” Family Perspective, Winter 1978, pp. 35–40.)